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News ::
Comprehensive Propensities - 1
06 Aug 2002
Perhaps it's time for us to awaken to reasonable and holistic solutions to the essential problems we're facing. What do you think?
Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth

I am enthusiastic over humanity's extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuities.

If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top.

I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday's fortuitous contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem.

Our brains deal exclusively with special-case experiences. Only our minds are able to discover the generalized principles operating without exception in each and every special-experience case which if detected and mastered will give knowledgeable advantage in all instances.

Because our spontaneous initiative has been frustrated, too often inadvertently, in earliest childhood we do not tend, customarily, to dare to think competently regarding our potentials. We find it socially easier to go on with our narrow, shortsighted specialization's and leave it to others---primarily to the politicians---to find some way of resolving our common dilemmas.

Countering that spontaneous grownup trend to narrowness I will do my, hopefully "childish," best to confront as many of our problems as possible by employing the longest-distance thinking of which I am capable---though that may not take us very far into the future.

Having been trained at the U.S. Naval Academy and practically experienced in the powerfully effective forecasting arts of celestial navigation, pilotage, ballistics, and logistics, and in the long-range, anticipatory, design science governing yesterday's naval mastery of the world from which our present day's general systems theory has been derived, I recall that in 1927 I set about deliberately exploring to see how far ahead we could make competent forecasts regarding the direction in which all humanity is trending and to see how effectively we could interpret the physical details of what comprehensive evolution might be portending as disclosed by the available data.

I came to the conclusion that it is possible to make a fairly reasonable forecast of about twenty-five years. That seems to be about one industrial "tooling" generation. On the average, all inventions seem to get melted up about every twenty-five years, after which the metals come back into recirculation in new and usually more effective uses. At any rate, in 1927 I evolved a forecast. Most of my 1927's prognosticating went only to 1952---that is, for a quarter-century, but some of it went on for a half-century, to 1977.

In 1927 when people had occasion to ask me about my prognostications and I told them what I thought it would be appropriate to do about what I could see ahead for the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's people used to say to me, "Very amusing‹--you are a thousand years ahead of your time."

Having myself studied the increments in which we can think forwardly I was amazed at the ease with which the rest of society seemed to be able to see a thousand years ahead while I could see only one-fortieth of that time distance. As time went on people began to tell me that I was a hundred years ahead, and now they tell me that I'm a little behind the times.

But I have learned about public reaction to the unfamiliar and also about the ease and speed with which the transformed reality becomes so "natural" as misseemingly to have been always obvious. So I knew that their last observations were made only because the evolutionary events I had foreseen have occurred on schedule.

However, all that experience gives me confidence in discussing the next quarter-century's events. First, I'd like to explore a few thoughts about the vital data confronting us right now-such as the fact that more than half of humanity as yet exists in miserable poverty, prematurely doomed, unless we alter our comprehensive physical circumstances.

It is certainly no solution to evict the poor, replacing their squalid housing with much more expensive buildings which the original tenants can't afford to reoccupy. Our society adopts many such superficial palliatives. Because yesterday's negatives are moved out of sight from their familiar locations many persons are willing to pretend to themselves that the problems have been solved. I feel that one of the reasons why we are struggling inadequately today is that we reckon our costs on too shortsighted a basis and are later overwhelmed with the unexpected costs brought about by our shortsightedness.

Of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking. This means that the potentially-integratable-techno-economic advantages accruing to society from the myriad specializations are not comprehended integratively and therefore are not realized, or they are realized only in negative ways, in new weaponry or the industrial support only of warfaring.

All universities have been progressively organized for ever finer specialization. Society assumes that specialization is natural, inevitable, and desirable. Yet in observing a little child, we find it is interested in everything and spontaneously apprehends, comprehends, and co-ordinates an ever expending inventory of experiences. Children are enthusiastic planetarium audiences. Nothing seems to be more prominent about human life than its wanting to understand all and put everything together.

One of humanity's prime drives is to understand and be understood. All other living creatures are designed for highly specialized tasks. Man seems unique as the comprehensive comprehender and co-ordinator of local universe affairs. If the total scheme of nature required man to be a specialist she would have made him so by having him born with one eye and a microscope attached to it.

What nature needed man to be was adaptive in many if not any direction; wherefore she gave man a mind as well as a coordinating switchboard brain. Mind apprehends and comprehends the general principles governing flight and deep sea diving, and man puts on his wings or his lungs, then takes them off when not using them. The specialist bird is greatly impeded by its wings when trying to walk. The fish cannot come out of the sea and walk upon land, for birds and fish are specialists.

Of course, we are beginning to learn a little in the behavioral sciences regarding how little we know about children and the educational processes. We had assumed the child to be an empty brain receptacle into which we could inject our methodically-gained wisdom until that child, too, became educated. In the light of modern behavioral science experiments that was not a good working assumption....

http://bfi.org/operating_manual.htm

See also:
egroups.com/group/jpchance